‘The Hours’ by Michael Cunningham

“The Hours” won the Pulitzer in 1999 and was the subject of a film shot by Stephen Daldry three years later. Book and film became works of those that are called ‘cult’, and with good reason, because both are splendid. Now there is a reissue of the novel, which allows those who read it two decades ago to review it and read it for the first time to those who have not read it until now.

Michael Cunningham tells the life of a single day – with one exception, when he speaks of the death of Virginia Woolf – of three women. The first of them is the British writer and the chosen day is the one on which the writing of ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ begins. The second woman is an American who at the end of the 1940s begins to read the aforementioned work. She is pregnant, has a young son, and it is her husband’s birthday. The third is a New Yorker who at the end of the 20th century shares her life with another woman, has a daughter who has just passed adolescence and in her youth was the lover of a poet who has just received an important award and who lives his last months to consequence of AIDS.

The novel, as the film will later do, intersperses scenes of the three women following a ingenious common thread: the second of them reads chapters of the book of the first and the third reproduces, in current time, some situations that also appear in the text.

He art, mortality, mental illness, anguish at the impossibility of making dreams come true, lament for what could be and was not, everyday life in the face of adventure. These are some themes that arise while we attend sometimes banal episodes of those few hours in the lives of three women. With subtle writing, which he often chooses to suggest rather than show, Cunningham completes a fascinating story.


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